Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A 72-Hour Wait for Santorum

This past weekend, a student sent me an email with a question about the "Born Alive Infant Bill" (the bill that Obama's opposition to when he was still a Senator had him slapped with accusations of supporting "infanticide") and I found myself writing back a 500+ word response about fetal pain laws, how gestational age affects legislation around abortion, and pro-life politics/policies while simultaneously trying to temper my response so that I wouldn't scare my student off.

(I don't think that politics of this type really have a place in the classroom; it's my job to make my students think and learn how to ask difficult questions, not to preach or "convert" them to my way of thinking--that never works, anyway.)

It turns out my student was appreciative of my, unnecessarily verbose, explanation and the whole back-and-forth got me thinking that I need/want to formulate a more extensive response to the state of the reproductive rights debate in America these days. That said, consider this blog post a placeholder for that analysis, as I have something like 75 papers to grade in the next week and should be focusing my efforts on that.

In the meantime, enjoy this related video made by Ashley Judd (my new hero) and a number of other recognizable faces. I'm not usually one to joke about reproductive rights, but in this case I'll make an exception because this video is amazing:

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I can't say I'm thrilled with the direction we're heading in as a country (understatement of the century), but I do find it heartening that, perhaps because of the absurd way women have and continue to be treated by the socio-political matrix and media institutions, more and more women and men are crying "foul."

The Good: Ashley Judd's incredible missive indicting gender inequality and unrealistic media scrutiny. It's amazing; you should go read it. Here's a quote to convince you:
Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.
[On a side note, this article reminded me that I've been meaning to watch Judd's new show Missing, particularly because I'm very interested in (and working toward writing an article about) the framing of the mother as the ideal woman warrior in contemporary culture--i.e. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the Kill Bill films, etc.]

The Bad: It seems to be Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's deepest desire to see the status of women regress back to the 1950s, if his sneaky, Friday afternoon, pre-Easter passing of several anti-woman bills is anything to go by. From the Ms. blog:
For nearly a year, half of Wisconsin has been up in arms over Walker’s repeal of union rights, which the state Supreme Court upheld last June. Gov. Walker may have sealed his claim to infamy, however, when he sneakily passed 51 laws last Thursday, four of which target women. He waited until Friday, hours before the Easter weekend began, to make his public announcement—a way to sidestep the inevitable outcry.

Three of the bills curbed women’s reproductive rights: two heavy-handed abortion restrictions and a law mandating abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in lieu of comprehensive sex education.

The law causing the real uproar, however, might just be the most surprising blow to women dealt by any state government in 2012. Gov. Walker turned back the clock on gender equality in the workforce by repealing Wisconsin’s 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act (EPEA), which permitted victims of wage discrimination to take their cases to state circuit courts. The law not only protected women from pay discrimination, but also from sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Ugly: As if all that's not bad enough, both Arizona and Georgia recently passed 20-week abortion bans, the Georgia one specifically insisting abortions after 20 weeks be made illegal in all cases except "medically futile" pregnancies (where there is no chance that the fetus will survive the pregnancy or be able to live once born); no exceptions are to be made that relate to the mother's mental or emotional state and abortions performed because of medical futility must be performed in such a way as to avoid "fetal pain"--so the fetus is removed alive and dies "naturally." Yes, really. However, the real kicker is that in the original bill there was no such medical futility exemption; state representative Terry England went so far as to compare women to livestock, suggesting that mothers, like cows and pigs, should have to carry their offspring to term, dead or alive.

Yeah. I don't even know.

Let's focus on the good today, shall we?

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How did I miss this???

Considering my love of Mad Men and the fact that I just recently wrote an article myself about the role nostalgia plays in the show's construction (not yet published, but I'll link to it when it is), it's absolutely shameful that I missed Melissa Harris-Perry's discussion of the show (especially since the discussion also included Tim Wise and I just wrote about Harris-Perry for Ms.!). This is what happens when you cancel your cable. (Although I can honestly say that this might be the only downside. Watching New Girl and 30 Rock (among other things) on Hulu when I want to watch them is so much more fulfilling than wasting away hours staring, glazed-eyed and slack-jawed, at the Food Network.)

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Click through to Harris-Perry's website here.

[Also, I just discovered by accident that my Ms. essay on Mad Men is discussed and linked in the show's Wikipedia article under the "Sexism" section. Cool.]

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Future of Feminism: The Complete Works

I got a little behind last week chronicling the final few Future of Feminism posts over at the Ms. blog, so I thought I would list them all, in order, here. All posts, unless otherwise noted, were written by me. I also owe a great debt of gratitude to my tremendous editors over at Ms., Michele Kort and Jessica Stites, as well as the amazing fact-checkers, interns Catherine Scott and Kristen Schuetz!

Here's the 2012 Future of Feminism Complete Works:

March 1: Welcome to the Future of Feminism!

March 2: Flipping the Gender Script

March 3: Ending Rape as a Tool of War

March 4: Building Bridges to World Peace

March 5: The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

March 6: Not Your Ordinary Mother's Blog by Avital Norman Nathman

March 7: Music to Our Ears by Avital Norman Nathman

March 8: 50 Global Solutions for Women and Girls by Amanda Montei

March 9: No More Media Sexualization of Women

March 10: Let's Talk About Sex

March 11: The Power of Local Journalism

March 12: Rachel Maddow and Melissa Harris-Perry

March 13: Beating the Gender Gap in Tech

March 14: It's Easy Being Green

March 15: Sex Workers Deserve Dignity and Care

March 16: One World, Many Gendered Voices

March 17: Girding Girls to Win Debates

March 18: Freedom from Body Shaming Regardless of Size

March 19: Encouraging Girls and Women in Sports

March 20: Transfeminism and Its Conundrums

March 21: Young, Queer and Sociologically Informed by Jessica Holden Sherwood

March 22: VAWA Goes Viral

March 23: The Hashtag is Mightier Than the Sword by Catherine Scott

March 24: Anti-Bully Pulpits

March 25: Shaping Feminist Spirituality

March 26: Hip Hop Critiques Gender

March 27: Telling Our Stories Out Loud

March 28: Sex Education as a Human Right by Kristen Schuetz

March 29: Girls and Women, Don't Be Camera-Shy!

March 30: Say No to Human Trafficking

March 31: Future of Feminism: Is Now!

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Facebook Group

In the transition to the new groups pages, Facebook deleted all of the old group members for the Fourth Wave Feminism site there...and I just realized it. Now we only have five members!

Join Us!

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Future of Feminism, Days Twenty thru Twenty-Five

I was at a conference in Boston Wednesday-Sunday, so I'm a little behind posting my Future of Feminism Ms. posts to this blog. Sorry! Here are the blog posts from the past few days:

Day Twenty, Transfeminism and Its Conundrums (this one has a super-contentious comment section!)

Day Twenty-one (a guest post), Young, Queer and Sociologically Informed

Day Twenty-two, VAWA Goes Viral

Day Twenty-three (a guest post), The Hashtag is Mightier Than the Sword

Day Twenty-four, Anti-Bully Pulpits

Day Twenty-five, Shaping Feminist Spirituality

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Nineteen: Women and Sports

I'm not a huge follower of sports, but that doesn't mean I don't understand its importance...especially for women and girls:
I’m not much of a sports fan, but I can certainly appreciate the strength, time and sweat that goes into the training of a top athlete. Also, it’s hard to miss that in the hubbub around March Madness, women’s college basketball, despite its long history of stunning athleticism, is yet again being largely ignored in the media–or, at the very least, not receiving anywhere near the representation that men’s basketball does.


While the passing of Title IX in 1972 did much to encourage and support girls and women who wanted to take part in sports, there are still many prejudices with which women have to contend if they’re interested in sports–from automatic assumptions of weakness or inability to assertions like, “Oh, you’re pretty good for a girl.” These stereotypes, combined with the fact that women’s sports are still often thought of as less interesting/important/worthy/difficult than men’s sports mean that young girls need reassurance that being good at sports has absolutely nothing to do with sex or gender. See the UN’s 2007 report, “Women, gender equality and sport” for more on the benefits and stumbling blocks for women athletes.

Click here for more.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Eighteen: Size Acceptance

On day eighteen, I give a brief overview of the importance of the fat acceptance movement:
While I’ve already spent some time discussing the dangerous ways the media sexualizes women and girls, and how it gives the false impression that to be attractive, popular and interesting you must be skinny and hyper-feminine, today I want to switch things up little and talk about the body acceptance movement (also called “size acceptance” or “fat acceptance”), which attempts to combat the negative stereotypes around women and men who are conventionally considered overweight or obese.

One thing bears mentioning upfront: Fighting for body acceptance does not mean promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, according to Linda Bacon’s landmark book, Health at Every Size, and other recent studies, dieting is often ineffective at handling obesity, and sometimes the extreme measures used to combat obesity–surgery, liposuction, aggressive exercise programs–are more harmful than the extra weight. Not to mention that it’s far from true that all thin people are healthy. The myth that skinny equals healthy is rooted in our cultural obsession with weight and the media’s idolization of rail-thin actors and models.

Read the rest here.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Seventeen: Girls and Women in Debate

Today's post features the great Women's Debate Institute:
Everyone has a right to speak out about the injustices they see in the world, but how to shape that rhetoric so that people actually listen? That’s something many of us spend years mastering. Mentoring girls in these skills is a central goal of the Women’s Debate Institute, a yearly summer workshop in debate for high school girls.

Debate not only helps students learn how to articulate themselves, it can also lead to successful careers in fields such as politics, business, the law and academia. And yet high school and college debate teams are not always welcoming for women; there’s a sharp drop-off in girls’ participation rates between the novice and senior divisions.
Read the rest here.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Sixteen: Gender Across Borders

Today's post features another wonderful global organization, one that highlights the many varied voices of speaking out for gender equality:
Profiling globally-minded organizations this month has reinforced for me one of the main underpinnings of feminism’s future: expanding the movement’s mission outside of our immediate comfort zones. In other words, moving beyond a personal-is-political philosophy to a politics of global humanity.

“Solely discussing gender [is] not enough,” says Colleen Hodgetts, associate editor of the collaborative blog Gender Across Borders. “Feminism as a movement needs to directly confront all other power struggles, namely racism, ableism and heterosexism, in order to be a movement that even attempt[s] to represent a broad spectrum of women.”

C0-founded as a “global voice for gender justice” in 2009 by a group of women, including executive editor Emily Heroy and staff writer Carrie Nelson, Gender Across Borders has quickly become a popular clearinghouse for a variety of perspectives on global issues. Its six staff writers, five monthly contributors, five interns and a host of other contributing writers collectively represent “10 different countries from every continent except Antarctica,” according to Hodgetts.

Click here to read the rest!

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Fifteen: Advocating for Sex Workers

Today's post considers some of the initiatives out there designed to support, advocate for and protect sex workers:
There’s no doubt that sex work in its various manifestations, ranging from stripping to prostitution to pornography, remains a contentious issue. It’s one on which even feminists notoriously disagree–a “fracture in ideology,” according to Kate Holden–with discussions veering back and forth between victimization and empowerment.

Of course there’s a substantial difference between becoming a sex worker by choice and, say, being sex trafficked by force, and I doubt anyone would argue that forced prostitution is empowering. However, “sex slavery,” as popularized in films and on shows such as Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, represents a more extreme scenario, with many sex workers–at least in the U.S.–falling somewhere on a spectrum between choice and circumstance. One thing isn’t really up for debate, though: A sex worker, woman or man, cis- or transgender, shouldn’t be deprived of rights, protection or access to health care due to the social stigma that weighs on their profession. Today’s post features projects and organizations recognizing that no one should be left behind in our continual battle for equality.

Click here for more.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Fourteen: Women in Green

Today's post features the organization Women in Green and, more generally, explores women's roles in the environmental sector:
Since yesterday’s post highlighted the need for women in the tech sector, it seems apropos to follow up with a further exploration of how women can and should make a difference in business and technology–in our present and for our future. Today, I’m featuring the Women in Green Forum, an annual conference that brings together entrepreneurs, environmental researchers, sustainability developers and other professional women in “green” fields.

Founded in 2010 by Jaime Nack, president of the environmental consulting firm three squares inc., the Women in Green Forum grew out of her all-too-common realization that women were sorely underrepresented at environmental conferences, in leadership positions at green businesses and as heads of eco-minded research projects. Designed to encourage collaboration, networking and innovation, the Forum has already attracted an international audience in its short tenure through in-person attendance and a series of YouTube videos chronicling some of its panels and speakers.
Click here for more.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Thirteen: Technical Women

Today's post details some of the challenges faced by women in the technology sector, riffing off a longer article in the current print issue of Ms. to which I contributed a sidebar:
With much of the country still struggling to come out from under the recession, it’s always heartening to hear that some well-paying sectors are actively recruiting–especially when they’re actively recruiting women. The STEM sector (science, technology, engineering and math) seems to be one of the stubbornly impenetrable “old boys clubs,” but many tech companies have begun to recognize that bringing women and people of color more seamlessly into the fold is essential to the future of technological innovation.
Click here here to read more.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Twelve: Rachel Maddow and Melissa Harris-Perry

Today's post was really fun to write because I got to re-watch a lot of great segments from The Rachel Maddow Show, The Daily Show and the new and exciting Melissa Harris-Perry Show...an excellent way to spend yesterday afternoon!
Local reporting from regions around the globe is absolutely essential. And, with the rise of blogs and social media, increasing power resides in the voices of independent writers who have the courage to speak their minds.

However, mainstream media still has incredible reach and influence; and the sad truth is that women and people of color are underrepresented in almost all forms of mainstream journalism, be it print, broadcast or web. This is especially true in one of the most influential mediums of opinion journalism, TV punditry, making feminist and intersectional perspectives the exception there rather than the rule.

But today, instead of dwelling on the negative, I want to take a little time to celebrate the fact that there are a few tremendously popular TV personalities–each with loyal viewerships in the millions–who consistently report on topics that affect the lives of women and girls.

Read the rest (and watch the videos) here.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Eleven: Making the Global Local

Today's post features a great organization that trains and hires women around the world to work as reporters for global news outlets, thereby making the global local:
A few days ago, the Global Press Institute, an organization devoted to training women to report on local and regional stories for national and global news outlets, celebrated its sixth birthday, and with it, ushered in what hopes to be a new era of responsible, home-grown journalism. After all, who better to tell the stories and uncover the secrets of cities, towns and villages than women who already live in those communities and who know the people and the culture and the customs?
Read the rest here.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Ten: Let's Talk About Sex

In today's Future of Feminism post at the Ms. Blog, I feature organizations that promote healthy sexuality and reproductive justice for women of color and youth:
While yesterday’s post dealt with the negative sexualization of women and girls, it’s equally important to encourage a positive outlook on sex. In fact, the potentially self-esteem-ruining and otherwise problematic objectification of women and girls in media culture means that supporting healthy sexuality has become an even more pressing feminist goal for organizations.

Click here for more.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Future of Feminism, Days Eight and Nine

Yesterday, for International Women's Day, another great "guest post" (this one by Amanda Montei) over at the Ms. Blog as part of my Future of Feminism series: "Future of Feminism: 50 Global Solutions for Women and Girls"; you can read it here.

Also, today, I contributed a post for Day Nine on the sexualization of women and girls in media culture. Check it:
t’s hard to ignore the sexualization of women and girls in the media these days; it’s everywhere, from Carl’s Jr. ads to films supposedly meant to empower women. Dr. Jean Kilbourne, creator of the film series Killing Us Softly (1979-2010), has been tracking advertising images of women since the late 1960s. In a recent interview with Bitch magazine, she stresses that things are getting worse, not better...

Read the rest here.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Suffrage a la Lady Gaga

Feminist Law Professors just posted an awesome video made by the folks at Soomo Publishing. It's an ode to woman suffrage, Lady Gaga-style! Enjoy:

By the way, regarding the fact that all the performers in the video are white: the prevailing response (on FLP and in the Youtube comments section which, as we all know, is a bastion of truth and righteousness) is that woman suffrage was a largely white, middle-class movement and, hence, the video is historically accurate. But...I think that's a little bit of a cop out.

Yes, the suffrage movement was incredibly problematic in terms of race. Some suffragists believed, for example, that the 15th amendment--which gave black men and male naturalized citizens the right to vote--was an insult to women because it allowed men of lower standing (read: non-white, working class, less educated, etc.) to have power over white, educated, upper-middle class women, thereby degrading and corrupting the political system which (white, upper-middle class) women would be better able to keep pure. And suffrage organizations like the NAWSA (National American Woman Suffrage Association) barred black women from membership.

So, yeah, that's pretty problematic.*

However, there were a lot of suffragists who were women and men of color (many of the former abolitionists turned to the suffrage movement after the Civil War): Sojourner Truth, Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Dubois, to name a few.

Despite what some suffragists (including "heroes" of the movement like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton) would like us to think, the movement wasn't all white...why not at least acknowledge that in the video?

All that said...I do love this video.

* Professor Louise Michele Newman's written a fascinating book about race and the suffrage movement that discusses all this in much more detail: White Women's Rights: Racial Origins of Feminism in the United States (Oxford UP, 1999).

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Future of Feminism, Days Six and Seven

The past two days of my Future of Feminism series at the Ms. blog have been "guest posts" by blogger Avital Norman Nathman. Her posts are on "Mommy Bloggers" and the Institute for Musical Arts, respectively.

Go check them out! The mommy blogger post has already garnered quite a few responses.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Five: Writing Women

Today's post as part of my Future of Feminism series at the Ms. blogs chronicles a number of online organizations that support and encourage women writers:
The fact that blogging and social media have become such prominent avenues for discourse is of vital importance to the future of feminism. A powerfully articulated idea can spread like wildfire. Social media allows us to do in just a few days what physical protests and boycotts might have taken weeks or months to accomplish–take, for example, the swift reversal of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s plans to defund Planned Parenthood. So today I’d like to focus on three organizations that encourage and support women writers both on the internet and the “old-fashioned” way–in print.

Read the rest here.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Four: Join Me on the Bridge

Day 4 in the Future of Feminism series at the Ms. blog features the organization Join me on the Bridge:
As children we’re taught that even those who seem different from us share, at heart, the same hopes and dreams. We learn in school that world peace and equality are the ultimate of aspirations. But by the time we’re adults, most of us are more cynical, even jaded: World peace is nothing more than the punchline to a joke about beauty pageant contestants or the name of a basketball player.

So it’s all the more important to be reminded that, while world peace and equality may seem distant fantasies of a hard-won future, the key to eating an elephant (as the saying goes) is one bite at a time. That seems to be the motto that guides Join Me on the Bridge, an event designed by Women for Women International, an organization devoted to helping survivors of war rebuild their lives. The campaign’s mission is to bring together people from all walks of life, in communities all over the world, “in taking a stand for peace and women’s equality.”

Read more here.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Three: Ending Rape as a Tool of War

Today's installment in my Future of Feminism series at the Ms. blog profiles the organization Women Under Siege, which

has a two-part mission: to educate and to help change policy. “We’re starting with documentation as a way to bring this history into the public conversation,” [Director Lauren] Wolfe told the Ms. Blog. “When the story of women’s suffering remains hidden, there is no way to change it.”

After education comes change. Women Under Siege hopes that bringing visibility to these issues will spark changes in the way NGOs, the UN and local governments handle sexual violence against women during both wartime and in times of peace.

Click here for more.

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Future of Feminism, Day Two: Interventions in the Reproductive Rights Debate

Today's "Future of Feminism" post considers some of the innovative (and oft-humorous) ways a few women politicians have called attention to the ridiculousness of conservative legislators thinking they should have the right to dictate how women make decisions about their own bodies.

Read about it here.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Welcome to the Future of Feminism

I'm excited to announce that today marks the first day of my month-long series, "The Future of Feminism," over that the Ms. blog. I decided that this women's history month, I wanted to try something a little different:
I’m all for women’s history: I teach it in my women’s studies class, and I love learning about women politicians, scientists, artists and writers whose life stories were buried under a narrow-minded, patriarchal historical canon. I believe it is unequivocally important for women and men to understand that the conventional historical narrative often comes to us constricted and dulled, with many great women and people of color lost in the shadows. I hammer home in my students the importance of early feminist movements and ideas, how contemporary feminism rests on the shoulders of women who came before. But sometimes … sometimes I want to look forward to the future of feminism–not where we were, but how far we have left to go.

Come join me!

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello.

Even though this blog has been more or less defunct for many months, this isn't goodbye. In fact, I have some big things planned in the next few weeks and will start blogging any pretty regularly in a variety of capacities.

First of all, I'm starting a series on Thursday for the Ms. Magazine blog. Since March is Women's History Month, I decided I wanted to do something a little different: focus on the future of feminism instead of it's past. For the month of March, I'll be posting daily to the Ms. blog with profiles about organizations and issues that address contemporary concerns within feminism.

Secondly, I'm currently working on a podcast. Let's just say I'm somewhere between the pre-production and production phases of the first episode. More information to come...

Thirdly, I'm sure that all these posts and interviews will garner a lot more information and opportunities for sharing links than I'll have space for in the blog or on the podcast, so I'll be posting other Links of Great Interest (LOGI?) in this space.

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